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Singh sweats on fitness as Asian stars gear up for Open

INDIA'S Jeev Milkha Singh is battling time as he prepares to lead a strong Asian Tour contingent at the US Open this week with the aim of delivering Asia's first major title.

The year's second major starts at Bethpage State Park's Black course in New York tomorrow and joining Singh will be Angelo Que of the Philippines and the Korean trio K.J. Choi, Bae Sang-moon and Charlie Wi.

Asian Tour honorary member Vijay Singh of Fiji will also be in the elite field.

It will be a walk down memory lane for Jeev, the reigning Asian Tour Order of Merit champion, as he made his major debut at the US Open at the same venue back in 2002.

However, the 37th ranked player in the world will have to shrug off a rib injury he picked up during the recent Wales Open where he finished a commendable joint sixth.

The Indian, who has been drawn alongside his namesake Vijay Singh and Choi, will decide tonight if he is fit enough to compete in New York.

After missing the cut at the US Masters in April by one stroke, Jeev will be determined to win his fitness race and compete in the US Open where world No. 1 Tiger Woods is the title holder.

His form has been solid with two recent top-10s in Europe while he was also fourth at the WGC-CA Championship in Doral, United States, earlier this season.

Choi, an Asian Tour honorary member, is also expected to sparkle at Bethpage. The powerful Korean has come close to winning Asia's first major on several occasions where he finished third at the Masters in 2004 and was the halfway leader at the British Open last year before ending tied 16th.

Welcome return

Choi endured a slow start to his season, posting only one top-10 at the Northern Trust Open where he finished joint third but he showed a welcome return to form at the Memorial Tournament two weeks ago by placing 13th.

Que, last year's Philippine Open champion, and Bae, a three-time winner on the Asian Tour, will make their US Open debuts and take their places alongside the world's best players after a successful qualifying campaign in Japan.

Que finished second to qualify for his second major test while big-hitting Bae, winner of the GS Caltex Maekyung Open in May, was third in the qualifiers.

Wi, a seven-time winner on the Asian Tour and a regular on the US PGA Tour, earned his US Open place after topping his sectional qualifying in California.

Vijay, a three-time major champion, will aim to roll back the years as he contests the prestigious title. The Fijian is a living testament that age is no barrier as the 46-year-old claimed three titles last year on the PGA Tour.



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